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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 September 21 - 27  > Okinawa governor to Defense Minister: US Harrier jets should not fly before cause of recent crash is determined
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2016 September 21 - 27 [US FORCES]

Okinawa governor to Defense Minister: US Harrier jets should not fly before cause of recent crash is determined

September 23-25, 2016
Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi on September 24 met with the Defense Minister at the prefectural office building and protested against the recent crash of a U.S. Harrier jet in the sea off Okinawa. He demanded that the Japanese government urge the U.S. to suspend Harrier flights until the cause of the accident is determined.

Two days earlier, a U.S. Marine Corps AV-8 Harrier Fighter Attacker crashed into the sea area 153 km east of the Okinawa mainland after taking off from the U.S. Kadena base in the prefecture. The pilot was rescued by the U.S. military. The Okinawa government data shows that the same type of aircraft caused 18 accidents, including crashes and the dropping of objects, since Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972.

In the meeting with Defense Minister Inada Tomomi, Onaga stressed that in similar cases in the past, the central government called on the U.S. military to take measures to prevent a recurrence, but it provided no follow-up information and the situation did not improve at all. The governor said that Okinawans are paying close attention to how the defense minister will react to the recent accident.

Inada merely replied that the accident was “regrettable”.

On the previous day, the Japanese Communist Party Okinawa Prefectural Committee visited the Okinawa Defense Bureau to convey their protest against the recent crash. JCP member of the House of Representatives Akamine Seiken and four JCP members of the prefectural assembly took part in this action.

In a meeting with Defense Bureau officials, the JCP pointed out that many local fishermen operate in the sea areas near the Okinawa mainland and thus frequent flights of U.S. military aircraft are posing a risk to people’s lives and safety. Noting that U.S. Harrier jets were repeatedly involved in serious accidents, the JCP called for a thorough investigation into the crash, the suspension of Harrier flights, and the removal of U.S. military bases from Okinawa.

Past related articles:
> Local Okinawa city remembers 18 citizens killed in 1959 US military jet crash [July 1, 2016]
> US Army copter drops a window [February 19, 2016]
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